You could say for the past months sleep in our family has been inconsistent. Between crawling, standing, teething, bed changes, etc, there have been some adjustments for all of us. This is our first time as parents, so it's all new anyway. Putting our daughter to sleep can and will take an hour or so sometimes. There are just some days that she won't settle, she may have her eyes closed for 5 min and not even be close. Some days her eyes will be open the whole hour, and some days she fights it the whole way. Some days putting her to sleep is easy as pie. Inconsistency is consistent for us, but that’s ok, we are getting better all the time.
When she finally is asleep, the name of the game is keeping her that way. It is very easy to wake her, and some days the smallest sound will wake her. Sometimes a small change in angle of your torso, from standing to sitting will wake her. We are still at the point where she takes naps in our arms, the whole napping alone thing hasn’t happened for us yet. This will be a dream haha. She just likes the physical contact. I can’t say that I mind either. Enabling or just enjoying, depends how you look at it.
This past week, my wife’s family was in town for the holidays. Each day for about a week, we all get together for good times and lots of eating. We tried to stay to her sleep schedule, but the shuttling around in cars, and the constant presence of a group of people doesn’t promote the most sleeping for a 9 month old. So her naps are golden, and we all need those to last. I will sneak a nap right by her side if I can.
On the nap in question, it was about mid morning. I had been to the gym, and came back to relieve mama for awhile. She gets precious hours of sleep in the am, that she misses from the previous night. Our daughter likes to wake up and play sometimes for hours in the night conveniently. The convenience is clearly to her, not to mom and dad. Her normal naps are right at about 32-35 minutes, and then wide awake. Sometimes if you are really on it you can get 45 or every once and a while you get to 1hr plus, rarely 1.5 hours. All of these time differences are like passing a checkpoint in a video game, if you can keep her asleep, you just won yourself 15 more minutes of rest and sleeping baby. If not, your out, back to the circus.
Well we had made it an hour, and I had to pee something fierce. The one where you feel like you taste your pee, it's past pinching it off. While completely calm and relaxed on the outside, I was screaming, and writhing on the inside. But she’s ASLEEEEEEP!! What the Hell do I do? I decided I was gonna try to pull this off and see if I could keep her asleep. Tall Order Daddio!
I went into the bathroom. Now imagine a 20+ lb baby in one arm, a vicious need to pee, my off hand is the free hand. If I pee, she will hear it and wake up for sure. Then you have a baby writhing in one tired arm, a dark bathroom (because the light is attached to a fan-which is loud), and a stream of pee that is rocket powered and surely just spraying everywhere. It’s not looked down upon when dad gets peed on by his daughter, but a daughter peed on by dad. This is a bad deal for sure. This is a terrible picture, and not a fun cleaning situation. So I did what any real manly man would do, I sat down to pee. I am a dad dammit, and I am sitting down to pee. That’s right, I said it and I did it, and I am damn proud of it. I walked out of the bathroom with a sleeping child. May as well have just hit a grand slam to win Game 7 of the World Series. I walked out of that dark bathroom, into that scene in Lion King where Rafiki holds Simba up in the sunlight, except I was holding my sleeping baby. The Pride was Thick! Aloe Blacc “The Man” was playing in my own personal soundtrack. I was killing it. I love being a Father!!
There are a ton of times when this fatherhood thing is challenging. Well the whole time really. I am always learning, and constantly laughing. Rewarding doesn’t do it justice, Pride can’t contain it. It is the epitome of all consuming. Days like this are the best. All other things fade away. So blessed and so grateful to sit down and pee. Boom!
2 years later commentary
This cracks me up to read this one. I totally forgot about this. You truly do forget things that happen. Due to lost sleep, and the unending series of craziness that goes on with parenthood, things just fade into the ether. I would very much suggest keeping some sort of record for yourself to look back on. It will be great to share these things with my girls when they reach the point of caring.
The morph that going to the bathroom takes on is incredible. The addition of children totally changes the game, to a level I was very unaware of. There were times I literally could have sat on the can for hours if I wanted. I fell asleep on the toilet when I was young. Now, I always have an audience, most of the time questioning, and sometimes on my lap. I have donned the throne at walmart with a shoeless toddler, I have batted away toddlers hand from a stream of pee countless times, we have spoken about male and female endowments too many times to reference, and the list goes on.
Also forgetting to pee truly is a thing. I have spent upwards of 5 hours post initial urge before I actually get to go. My wife first told me she forgot to pee, and I called bullshit. Then about 3 months later it happened to me. It has happened plenty of times since. Due to sanity, and toddlers which don't go hand in hand much, it happens. Navigating through the day becomes a conversation of triage more often than not. Which situation is the most serious, take care of this first. Before you know it, 5 hours have passed and you forgot to pee. Bladder gains for days.
Another thing that happens with parenting is you really value practicality over everything else. Getting things accomplished any way, any how. Things have to get done, and you can't just think inside the box, because kids are masters of operating outside the box all the time. Ego is gone, best practices are old news, effective execution of task becomes paramount. That baby needs to sleep, you get them to sleep, or the rest of life seems to unravel before your eyes like a toddler with a roll of toilet paper. There has been tons of learning about ourselves, and our children, and our best bet is to just keep an open mind and a patient demeanor. Patient demeanor takes a generous helping of gumption FYI.
And to address this manly thing. This seems to always be a conversation worthy of a headline or a social media post. For me this comes down to fulfillment of responsibility, and gentle leadership. As men we are often viewed as leaders. To lead gently is not to command. To lead gently is to empower and inspire. This is a much greater task that demands a great deal of empathy and vulnerability. To be strong and to lead in a gentle manner requires a level of connection that takes an investment of time, and takes requires effort. It is very challenging to lead children/ near impossible without connection. Its literally in our biology. Connection is first, it is the thing we most seek. Then all things come after. To think that we can thrive and lead without this is faulty I believe. Adults are just experienced kids. Connection still reigns supreme. Establish this and foster this and you are on the right track. Connection also demands vulnerability, it demands being seen, it demands letting people in. I am not referring to letting people take advantage of you, I am referring to allowing others to know you and experience who you are. If you can find a balance between taking care of your responsibilities and leading in a gentle way, you my friend are behaving in a very real manner. Hence you are a "real" man. Manhood is not about a look, it is not about some false ideal. Manhood is a very real expression of a committed individual to others outside himself. Its a life of service. To lead we must build others up, and this starts at the most basic of needs, the need to connect.